There are only 9 weeks left until I take my first steps from Rome to Jerusalem and again I have been brought to a standstill.
I have been pushing myself hard over the last few weeks since the ligaments I tore in my ankle at the end of March healed enough that I could start hiking. I have effectively been working the equivalent of 4 days in 3 as my contract's project moved into a critical phase, plus walking 3 days per week up to 20 kilometres per session, plus finishing the edits on my book so I could try and publish it before I leave, and not to mention trying to finalise plans to walk and pack up my life for 6 months or more.
Then 1 week ago, after back-to-back days walking 16 and 20 kilometres in the Dandenong Ranges and beside the Yarra River wearing the Princess boots, the Morton’s neuroma in my left foot returned. The nerve between my third and fourth metatarsals is compressed and fibrous tissue has formed around it causing constant pain and discomfort.
I walked from Canterbury to Rome with this neuroma. It started 2 weeks in, first as a burning sensation in my toes then it became increasingly painful until it went numb. It eventually healed and the feeling in my toes returned 12 months after I stopped walking crazy kilometres everyday with a pack on my back.
Although I know from this experience that I can walk with the neuroma and its pain, it makes walking more of an endurance than enjoyable which is why I went to great lengths to consult with a sports podiatrist and spent many hours over many weeks choosing boots in the first place. The thick and rigid sole of the Princess boots should have prevented the neuroma from returning. They failed but at least I have found out now while I can potentially do something about it.
I have stopped walking for now, at least until I can see my podiatrist next week but I wouldn't be surprised if I end up doing little physical training before I go.
After tearing the ligaments in my ankle, I realised that I needed to surrender the need to be fully prepared for my pilgrimage recognising that the actual walking from Rome to Jerusalem will be the training—nothing completely prepares you for day after day of walking carrying a backpack than doing just that.
I realise now that I didn't fully learn the lesson the first time around. I understood it in my mind and stopped training while my torn ligaments were healing then as soon as they were healed enough, I promptly forgot these lessons and charged ahead with my old ways of doing things.
It's no coincidence that it is my left foot that is injured again. All my doing, pushing and striving has effectively slammed my feminine self—that part of me that wants to flow and create in freedom and joy.
Sometimes what we need to learn comes around again and again until we understand it with our minds AND embody it. It's one thing to know the lesson and another one to change our behaviours because of it.
It's scary to pull back and do nothing.
How on earth do you get anywhere if you don’t take the steps and actions to move towards your goals, right?
How will I be physically prepared enough if I don't train and walk before I go?
But while I think I should be training and pushing myself hard to get things done, I can't ignore that life is suggesting that I pull back and reach my goal another way.
My physical steps alone will not get me to Jerusalem.
Over these last few years of fear-facing and risk-taking, I have learned that there is something greater that carries us. Strengthening my relationship to this source and dreaming into my journey are just as important as any physical doing. The stronger our dreams grow, the more they pull us towards them.
So I return to the practice of surrender and I remember David Whyte’s words, "What you can plan is too small for you to live."
I surrender my small will and the details of how this journey should unfold for a vision greater than my own.
I trust that my beautiful book that I have worked so hard on to inspire others to walk their own unique path will find its way out into the world in its own perfect time and I accept that may not be before I walk to Jerusalem.
I trust that if my plan to walk from Rome to Jerusalem in September is too small for me to live that the next right step will appear.
I trust that what may seem like obstacles at first are actually opportunities.
What about you, dear one. Is there something you need to surrender too?
Is there a dream or a goal that you have been pushing yourself hard to achieve? Have you been doing too much lately leaving you feeling tired and joyless and perhaps like you're on a never-ending treadmill that's never going to get you there?
Can you surrender it for just a moment? By surrender I don't mean giving up on your goal or dream but giving it space to be achieved in its own way and time. How does that feel? Can you feel the space around it and how you can breathe with more ease and joy?
With love and courage,
PS Here are some of the places I walked before I hurt my foot and the glorious light we experience here in winter